Smith: Cheetahs will be motivated
Ockert de Villiers - Sport24
Johannesburg - It may be a dead rubber but Cheetahs coach Franco Smith believes both teams have a lot to play for when his side take on the Bulls in their final 2015 Super Rugby match in Pretoria on Saturday.
Smith said the Cheetahs would be using the match as a stepping stone towards the Currie Cup season while they also looked to regain some lost pride.
“I see it as preparations for the next step and I agreed to coach these two matches with a specific purpose and goals,” Smith said.
“Although this competition has nothing to do with the next one it is still important that we regain respect not for anyone else but for ourselves.”
Only two weeks since taking the reins of the embattled Cheetahs, Smith did not expect any miracles but hoped they would be able to spring a surprise on the opposition.
“It is important to gauge against opposition what will be needed in the pre-season to get to our modified game plan,” Smith said.
“There are many new goals and it will be a lot easier to do the Currie Cup pre-season when the players have an idea of what is expected of them.
“This game is not merely another game, we will go out as motivated as possible and we will try to execute our plans as well as possible.”
In his first game in charge the Cheetahs showed signs of the type of rugby the former Springbok expected from the side in their 58-33 defeat to the Waratahs in Bloemfontein over the weekend.
The Cheetahs ran in five tries - the most any team managed past the defending champions - but also conceded nine five-pointers in that match.
The nine tries emphasised their defensive vulnerabilities in a season where they were by far the worst defensive team with the 61 tries scored against them.
“We would obviously like to build on our attack and definitely improve on our defence, but I do take in account that it is the end of a long season,” Smith said.
“I hope to blow enough energy and excitement into the players for them to be competitive and perhaps surprise ourselves and the Bulls.”
Smith said the Bulls would be equally motivated for this match after their playoff hopes were dashed following their fourth straight defeat on their tour of Australasia over the weekend.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, now in his eight term with the Pretoria side, has been rumoured to face the axe after failed to reach the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
“I expect a very determined group of players and I am sure they will be playing for Frans Ludeke,” Smith said.
“They are back from abroad and they would like to leave their supporters with a good taste in the mouth for the Currie Cup.
“I am sure they would like to get back to winning ways and at least end their season with a victory so I think they have just as much to play for.”
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Clayton Blommetjies, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 BG Uys
Substitutes: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Seven Sykes, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Oupa Mohoje, 22 Renier Botha, 23 Coenie van Wyk